UPDATE: Man arrested for arson; fire set at Royal Jubilee Hospital

A 36-year-old man was arrested Tuesday (Feb. 22) for arson, as well as failing to comply with a probation order from a previous conviction, in connection to a fire set a Royal Jubilee Hospital last week.

The flames were deliberately set in the old emergency room department at the Royal Jubilee Hospital on Friday, Feb. 18.

Two major crime detectives were assigned to investigate the stretcher bed fire. Daniel Charles Sutherland was arrested and held in police custody. He is known to police in the region and has a long criminal history, including previous arson convictions.

That it was a case of arson is a cause for concern for health authorities. “There are, at any given time, hundreds of patients and staff and our job is to make sure they are safe and secure,” Suzanne Germain, spokesperson for Vancouver Island Health Authority, said on Monday.

Victoria firefighters were alerted by alarm around 10 p.m. Upon arrival, they doused the mattress and bedding of a stretcher in a first-floor room at the back of the old emergency ward where the stretcher beds are stored.

About 30 patients on the second and third floors directly above were evacuated to other areas of the hospital as a precaution. They were brought back to the general medical care floors on Sunday.

“Certainly from the staff perspective the need to move some 30 patients in short order is always a stressful experience,” Germain explained. “It went remarkably well.”

The old section of the hospital where the fire broke out is slated for demolition in 2012, and the closest inhabited medical office – a tuberculosis clinic – is not open on weekends.

Heat damage was contained to one stretcher and some adjoining equipment. “The fire wasn’t hot enough to trigger the sprinkler system,” Germain said.

emccracken@vicnews.com